How to hit the ground running…

Posted by: Wendy MacMillan - Posted on:

GMTS was recently ranked as number seven of the top 300 most popular graduate employers in the Guardian’s annual survey.

I am not surprised in the slightest. The opportunities are endless and the training is second to none. For example, my last two weeks as a general management trainee involved:

  • Taking minutes at the Regional Trust Chief Executive Meeting
  • Attending the trusts equality and diversity steering group
  • Providing the trust medical dashboard figures for the senior management and senior clinician team to communicate our bed position and ambulance numbers to plan for the day ahead

However… your success on the scheme really is steered by you and what you do with the resources and opportunities you have access to. So I’ll share a few things that I have learnt along the way to help you get started and some tips given by the fantastic graduates before me.


  • Ask a lot of questions such as: what’s the best and worst parts of the job, opinions on management, what do they think could be improved etc.
  • You probably won’t have a clue what your actual role is at the start, so stick with the title of ‘enthusiastic graduate trainee’. People will smile politely and after a few months working there they’ll eventually appreciate that you are an asset to the team.
  • Be patient, people are so busy and often they won’t know what to show you so try to have an idea of what questions you can ask before you go (particularly if you’re visiting a clinical area).
  • Like the look of a certain project? Ask to come back to one of the future meetings – it’s great to be part of tasks outside your normal placement role.
  • If you had someone who put a lot of effort in, don’t forget to thank them and show some recognition afterwards – a quick e-mail will do!

Programme manager:

  • Decide how often you’ll meet, we meet every 3 weeks for a quick catch up. My programme manager takes the lead on my future career progression, keeps an eye on my competency level, supported my flexi-placement and identifies other areas which might be of interest that I can shadow away from my regular placement.
  • Make sure your programme and placement managers understand each other’s roles too, it can get a little confusing especially around performance review time so best to iron it out at the start.

Placement manager:

  • Ideally you should be speaking to them every day or every 2 days for the first few weeks of starting. Try to build an understanding of what they do and you’ll quickly start to see projects you might be interested in getting involved in.
  • For many people that you will work with, they will have worked in the NHS for years, so they’re less excited about the prospect of an audit or business case for example. Make it clear you’d love to learn and they’ll be more open to sharing the workload.
  • Set goals with them, it’s difficult when you don’t know what’s around the corner (winter crisis/workload) but even aiming for certain percentages on competencies or ticking off some boxes on your PDP will help you to recognise how far you’ve come when you have a difficult day.

Finally, remember that if you’re the smartest person in the room you’re probably in the wrong room. We’re trainees after all and learning on the job is the best way to absorb the skills needed to tackle the problems facing our NHS.

Share this:  

Alert: GMTS Scheme applications are now closed for 2024 entry